Anal cancer is basically a lump which is created by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the anus. Anal cancer is easy to diagnose as it is in a fairly easy-to-reach area. People who are at higher risk are diagnosed by screening tests, such as the digital rectal exam and/or anal Pap test, but most of them are diagnosed after their cancer starts to cause symptoms.

Diagnosis of anal cancer is done in following ways:

Physical Exam and History

The doctor examines the rectum and anal canal to decide what further testing might be appropriate. Examination of the body is done to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. Generally, history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments are taken.

Digital Rectal Examination

 (DRE)

The anal cancer is diagnosed by Digital rectal examination which is an exam of the anus and rectum. In this examination, the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a method that uses high-frequency sound waves in order to produce precise pictures. Before the scanning begins, the instrument is inserted into the anus.

Anoscopy

In Anoscopy, short, hollow tube  is used which is 3 to 4 inches long and about 1 inch in diameter, and may have a light on the end of it. It is an exam of the anus and lower rectum. The anoscope is coated with a lubricant and gently pushed into the anus and rectum. Due to shining light, the doctor gets a clear view of the lining of the lower rectum and anus. It is not a painful method.

Biopsy

In this procedure, the cells or tissues are removed so that they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. This is often done through the scope itself. Before the biopsy is taken, the area is made numb and then a small piece of the tissue is cut out and sent to a lab. If doctor finds that the tumor is very small & has not grown below the surface of the anus, he might attempt to remove the entire tumor during biopsy.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans

In MRI scan, magnets and radio waves are used to produce 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional pictures of the target area. The radio waves energy is absorbed by the body and then released in a specific pattern that is formed by the type of tissue and by certain diseases. After which, a computer translates the pattern into a detailed image of parts of the body.